Mirror, Mirror

Edwardian lady reflected in a mirror - McCall 1909 ad illustration detail

Happy New Year, everyone! This year I look forward to sharing more of my original pattern research and sewing projects, including my ’40s cape, an over-the-top ’70s Dior, and two by Alexander McQueen. For the moment I’ve been temporarily sucked back into academia, so my first post of 2013 is an images post.

Advertising for home sewing often involves women and mirror images. Promotional illustrations will show a woman standing before a mirror, or contemplating her reflection, as on these leaflets from Butterick and McCall:

Illustration of a woman in evening dress before a mirror - 1930s Butterick Fashion News cover
Butterick Fashion News, December 1936. Image: PatternVault shop.
A woman in a coat with leopard trim contemplates her reflection - 1940 McCall Style News cover
McCall Style News, September 1940. Image: PatternVault shop.

An Edwardian McCall’s ad shows an interesting variation: the mirror reflects a fashion plate, the idealized, well-dressed woman the dressmaker will become through her labour. The slogan spells out the idea of wish-fulfilment, promising the home dressmaker that she can “realize her dreams” with McCall’s patterns:

McCall1909slogan

The fashion plate also serves to promote a McCall’s pattern. Here is the full illustration:

McCall 1909 image of woman in mirror
Detail, advertisement for McCall’s magazine, 1909.

I know this isn’t the only sewing ad I’ve seen based on this concept. Can you think of others?

In other news, PatternVault is now on Twitter! Follow me for updates on the blog, shop, and vintage and designer fashion.

4 thoughts on “Mirror, Mirror

  1. I once had a customer tell me that buying a pattern is like buying hope. I think that last illustration especially shows that. Lovely, and thanks for sharing.

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